The Election Commission of India’s thrust on “inducement-free” elections from the past few elections, has continued and led to sustained efforts for election expenditure monitoring in the poll-going state of Karnataka. The recorded seizures in the state mark a significant 4.5 times increase as compared to assembly election in 2018. Seizures worth ₹375.61 crore were made, including cash, liquor, and freebies.
Strict vigil, extensive monitoring, coordination with neighboring states and inter-agency coordination has led to checking flow and distribution of inducements in Karnataka this time. Karnataka goes to polls on May 10.
|Cash||Liquor||Drugs||Precious metals||Freebies||Total Seizure as on May 8||Total Seizures in 2018|
|In ₹ crore|
During the visit to Karnataka in the second week of March, the Commission has exhaustively reviewed the preparations which included extensive reviews and preparations of coordinated functioning of enforcement agencies, both Central and State. The Commission also had detailed reviews of district heads and SPs of the above poll-going states. While announcing the schedule for Karnataka Assembly Elections, 2023, Chief Election Commissioner, Rajiv Kumar stressed on increased vigil and zero tolerance on distribution of inducements during the electoral process. He remarked that the Commission has significantly raised the bar for ensuring inducement free elections and the continuum of stepping up of efforts and increase in seizures witnessed during recently held Assembly Elections in five States, would continue.
As a drive, the results are encouraging with Karnataka witnessing seizures of ₹375.61 crore during enforcement of Model Code of Conduct period, which is nearly 4.5 times the seizures made in 2018 assembly elections. Additionally, from the date of visit of Commission in the second week of March, 2023 till date of announcement of elections, seizures of ₹83.78 crore were also made by various enforcement agencies. Enforcement Directorate has also attached assets amounting to Rs. 288 Crores after the imposition of MCC.
Notable hauls include seizure of ₹4.04 crore of cash in Bangarapet assembly constituency in Kolar District. A raid on a lab illegally manufacturing Alprozolam in Hyderabad by intelligence gathered and trail mapping done by NCB yielded 100 kg ganja seizure in Bidar district. More than 2.22 lakh litres of liquor, worth over ₹147 crore were seized from different parts of the state. Another striking feature of expenditure monitoring has been sizeable seizures of freebies. Sarees and food kits have been seized from Kalburgi, Chimanglur and other districts. Huge number of pressure cookers and kitchen appliances were also seized from Bailhongal and Kunigal and other assembly constituencies.
The extensive monitoring process started months back before the announcement of elections and includes host of activities like thorough review of preparation of different stakeholders including enforcement agencies, District Election Officers, appointment of experienced officers as expenditure observers, sensitising and inter-agency coordination and monitoring and adequate availability of field level teams. A total of 146 expenditure observers have been deployed and 81 assembly constituencies have been marked as ‘Expenditure Sensitive Constituencies’ for stricter vigil.